As the Nipah fear grips Kerala, reports in the media of the disease not being spread by bats has spooked the public.

Dont panic over unconfirmed reports on Nipah Virus Kerala Health Dept appeals
Health Nipah Virus Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 17:00

As news of more deaths caused by the Nipah Virus spreads, it has sparked panic and rumour-mongering in Kerala’s Kozhikode, where the outbreak has been reported. As of Wednesday morning, the death toll of confirmed cases of Nipah had risen to 11.

Speaking to TNM, the Kerala State Additional General Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanand appealed to people not to panic and said that people should stop speculating about how the virus spreads and its cures.

A WHO fact sheet said that the fact that the virus could have potentially spread as the bats’ natural habitat had been destroyed, which had pushed them into urban areas, leading to the spread of the disease.

This, and the fact that reports from media outlets claiming that the Health Department had announced that the samples of the bats obtained from the well were insect-eating bats and were not capable of spreading the virus sparked panic.

“It is not for the media to announce anything officially before the final results are out. Only the lab in Bhopal will be able to determine whether the antibodies are present in the bats and will be able to give a definite conclusion. Until then, there is no need to panic."

He added that it has been confirmed that all the people who have died due to Nipah have had some contact with the initial family of three who died, which suggests that the infection may be containable more than perceived earlier.

“You have to realize that the locality we are referring to now is not an urban area, it is a village. Bats have always been around in these parts and are normally spotted here. The problem now is that there is an infection spreading and we have to contain it. We have gotten permission from the Wildlife Department and were able to take some samples from bats to be sent for testing in Bhopal,” said Sadanand.

Sources from the Department of Animal Husbandry stated that investigations are currently underway to determine how the outbreak had started. “Samples have been collected from wells and have been sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal for further analysis. The Central Animal Husbandry Commission has also advised authorities in the state to survey animals from the epicentre of the infection,” a source told TNM.

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